Dell Vostro 3700 review

4 Jun 2010

A hulking 17.3in laptop that will appeal to businesses on a budget

Price when reviewed 
504
5

Dell's Vostro range is aimed squarely at fulfilling the needs of the small-business crowd. Its marketing mantra revolves around providing security, service and reliability with minimal outlay.

This, the Dell Vostro 3700, is the hulking giant of the range, and hopes to appeal to those looking for a powerful, semi-portable workstation. The Vostro 3700 clearly wants to reign supreme as the most affordable 17.3in laptop on the market, and, as ever, Dell allows prospective purchasers to tailor the Vostro to suit the tightest of budgets.

The base model, available for £429 exc VAT, harbours a 2.13GHz Core i3 processor, 2GB of memory, a 250GB hard disk, Intel's integrated HD graphics and bog-standard 802.11bg wireless networking.

Squeeze that modest IT budget as hard as you can, and £645 will see the 3700 upgraded with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-520M, 4GB of memory, a 320GB hard disk, dedicated Nvidia GT 330M graphics and both Bluetooth and 802.11n wireless. Whichever you choose, though, the 17.3in display shares the same matte finish, 1,600 x 900 resolution and solid, dependable image quality.

Dell Vostro 3700

Haul all 3kg of the Vostro 3700 onto the desk, and you're faced with a smart, businesslike notebook of daunting proportions. And, while its size might not appeal to some, there's no question that this redesign is the most successful the Vostro range has yet seen.

Reminiscent of the pricier Latitude range, the Vostro still has a clear identity of its own; clean lines and soft, rounded edges form a double act with acres of brushed aluminium framed by matte-black and glossy accents. It's only once you get up close and personal that the Vostro gives any clues as to its budget beginnings.

It's hardly surprising, but it's never going to give the extraordinarily sturdy Dell Precision M6500 a run for its money in the build quality stakes. Grapple heavy-handedly with the base and the odd creak and bit of flex make it clear that Dell has had to scrimp and save to hit such a low price point.

That flexibility is far from chronic, but it does leave the keyboard bereft of a sturdy foundation to build on. So although each key boasts plenty of travel and a positive action, its bouncy feel means it isn't the most comfortable keyboard upon which to type.

It's probably a little much to expect perfection at this price, though, and Dell has clearly worked hard to make the Vostro appeal to its target market.

Take a good long, hard look at the Vostro 3700, and there are plenty of plus points. The metal lid, for example, elicits far more confidence than the base beneath, and valiantly resisted our best efforts to prod and poke it hard enough to foul the TFT panel inside.

Details

Price ex VAT £429
Price inc VAT £504
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 410 x 271 x 40mm (WDH)
Weight 3.000kg
Travelling weight 3.7kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-720M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM57 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 17.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 330M
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 466GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9500420AS
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive Optiarc AD-7585H
Battery capacity 4,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 5
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset IDT HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 2hr 40min
Overall application benchmark score 1.57
Office application benchmark score 1.44
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.72
Encoding application benchmark score 1.44
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.68
3D performance (crysis) low settings N/A
3D performance setting N/A

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, Revovery discs
Software supplied N/A